Thanks to Charlene for letting me write an ff of her ff. This is getting complicated =] If you want to read her work, she'll be posting parts of ADG shortly on, or you can read it at kicking-n-byting and Bludhaven at Yahoo groups.

I don't own. Hell, I don't even own this story line. The only thing I own are my Star Wars sheets, and I stole those off my brother.

A Different Game: The Sidelines (1/3)
(A companion piece to Charlene Edwards' A Different Game)

Bart rolled his eyes. Whenever Robin wasn't around, Superboy started yapping and running his mouth. And it got dumb to listen to after a while.

"See, if he can't even be on time, then he shouldn't be the leader. If he's going to be all bla bla bla, and make us have these stupid meetings, he should at least show up for 'em." Superboy leaned back in his chair and propped his feet up on the table.

Empress rolled her eyes. "Get your dirty feet off the table, mon." She stared at him until he complied. "Robin's a busy guy. He'll be here, or he'll call."

The rest of Young Justice-Secret, Wonder Girl, Impulse and Lobo nodded in agreement. They knew Robin. He was a pain, but he was Mr. Responsible. They'd find out what was up.

"Well," Impulse said, his inherent impatience growing. "If Robin does all the creepy Bat stuff at night, then he should be here for a Monday afternoon meeting. Right? Right. Maybe he's in trouble and he needs us to save him--" Bart leapt out of his seat and began dashing around the room, trying to encourage the others to run a rescue mission. They could do it. They knew all the stuff Robin taught them....

"Bart, settle down," Wonder Girl urged. "He's like... fifteen minutes late. I say we give him another fifteen before we declare the meeting null and void, at which point we go to the mall."

More heads nodded in agreement.

With that being said, the group adjourned with the promise to reform in fifteen. Wonder Girl dashed to her room to check her e-mail, Superboy went for the fridge, Empress and Lobo stayed around the table--and Impulse was already gone.

He started thinking about Riceroni and he wondered if the streets in San Francisco were made out of Riceroni like Kon said they were (but he might have just been joking, Bart couldn't tell sometimes). So he went to San Francisco. He met a nice homeless guy named Jake, bought a pretzel and tried to find Los Angeles to see if it was really a city made out of Angels, but he got lost, so he decided to just come home and watch TV.

Bart Allen flipped through the channels as fast as the remote would let him, which wasn't fast enough for the little speedster. Maybe he could try to find L.A. again. It was either up and over a little, or down and over a little from San Francisco. He didn't know. He failed his last geography quiz.

Finally, Bart Allen stopped on one of the news channel. He didn't know what it was, but it looked important for some reason. All those press people, and the court house. It also said "Gotham City, Live" at the bottom of the screen. Maybe this was what was holding Robin up. Wouldn't that be cool if he knew before everyone else?

Bart was frustrated, this guy was just talking. But he was determined to figure out what was going on. He was going to kill Kon for that Riceronie thing. The moon wasn't made out of cheese, either...
"GUYS!" Bart screamed. "GUYS!" Normally, Bart would have sped off and dragged everyone into the req room, but he couldn't move.

"Bart, quit screaming!" Wonder Girl had flown into the room. Superboy came in next.

The image was gone for the screen. "I... I know why Robin isn't here," he said, his mouth suddenly dry. He heard people talk before about everything... slowing down. And it did, for him. The second he saw that face, and heard that man's announcement on LNN.

"Did he call in?" Empress asked.

His whole body felt heavy and slow. It was great effort to lift his finger to the TV. "P-press conference. From Gotham. He... he's been arrested."

There were gasps.

"For... for murder."

No one could breathe. They all simply crowded around the television, except for Bart, who was frozen at the sofa. Max kept telling him to slow down... now he'd come to a screeching halt.

Someone had turned the volume up. The sound made the set vibrate and buzz. "It was determined this morning that Timothy Drake, also accused of the murder will be tried as an adult."

"That's some other kid," Kon said quietly. "Alvin..."

Bart had to give it tremendous push to get any sound out when he spoke. "His... his name's Tim. I knew that. And--and they had a picture of him. It's Robin." Bart had sort of kept that little secret from everyone. He had met Tim/Robin on a skiing trip a year before they'd formed Young Justice. Tim musta thought he'd forgotten. It was easier if Bart pretended that he didn't know. So he simply... didn't know.

"....His father, industrialist Jack Drake, has no comment at this time."

Yeah, Bart thought bitterly. What do you say to that accusation?

"It sounds like this isn't a Robin thing," Empress... Anita said. "It sounds like they don't even know about that."

They flashed a picture of a 'Richard Grayson' and explained that he was the adopted son of the man they were accused of killing. "That's that Nightwing guy," Bart said dully. Nightwing always came to the Parent-Teacher conferences, instead of the Bat. Bart kinda studied him. He was always trying to figure out why he was half-bat, and half cool guy like Robin, and how a guy could be both. So yeah. This Richard guy was completely and totally Nightwing. "I betcha that Wayne guy is Batman," he muttered, not fully comprehending what was coming out of his mouth.

"Robin wouldn't." Secret said defensively. "He COULDN'T."

"We gotta do something," Anita said, looking around for affirmation from the others.

They all glanced at each other uncertainly, looking for guidance. Red Tornado was on the moon...Without Robin... they didn't have anyone.

"We'll go bust him out," Superboy said, stepping forward.

Lobo punched his fist. "Then we go bust the skulls of the guys who think our buddy Rob'd do that. We'll Frag 'em good."

Superboy nodded. "We know Robin didn't do anything like that."

A tendril of doubt crept into Bart's brain. "Robin was pretty pissed at him."

They all turned and looked at Impulse. "WHAT?" came a simultaneous cry from the group.

Superboy rushed to the defense of his friend. They had their problems, but this was ROBIN. You know, 'don't objectify women, Kon' Robin. Not... murder someone Robin. "Why would Robin have a beef with this Wayne guy?"

"Well, we were kinda talking. About girls and stuff."

Wonder Girl crossed her arms over her chest. "Robin killed this guy over a girl? Get real Bart."

"No... like, it's a bunch of stuff. Robin was mad 'cause Batman told his girlfriend about his ID. He said it wasn't Batman's secret to give."

"What's that gotta do with the rich guy?" Cassie asked.

Impulse sighed. Why did he have to wait for the world to catch up to him? "The rich guy is Batman."

"Nuh uh," Superboy said. "That rich guy's dumb. Batman's supposed to be smart. He's too smart to be...." Superboy scratched his head. "Oh. Never mind. Rob was THAT pissed?"

Impulse shrugged. He hated when everyone stared at him like that. "I thought they kissed and made up." Bart thought about that image, but it didn't make him smile. "But when I talked to him. I dunno. He was major-mad. He said Batman always thought he was better than everyone else, and he liked to play god, and someone should put Batman in his place..."

"But Robin was just mad, RIGHT?" Secret asked desperately.

"Yeah, he was mad." Bart wouldn't know if he was 'just' mad though.

Secret held firm. "Robin WOULDN'T do anything like that. Not even to Batman."

"I dunno. The twerp knows like ninety ways to take down a guy," Superboy said with doubt.

"Robin ain't ever fragged anyone."

"He's not capable of it," Secret added.

"I... I don't know," Wonder Girl said, stepping forward. "Arrowette left Young Justice cause of... that stuff. You know." Killing issues. "It.... it's in us. We're not immune." Cassandra HATED saying this, but she knew it needed to be said. "He... he did train with an assassin." She wouldn't tell how she knew that. Just that she knew.


"I just said he was TRAINED by an assassin. Briefly." Wonder Girl had run up briefly with Lady Shiva once. It had been one of her bragging rights. She'd trained their leader, she'd bragged.

"So, like, what're we saying here?" Bart asked. "I... I mean... Maybe I'm wrong about the whole thing. Maybe that rich guy isn't Batman."

Empress nodded and was the first to speak up. "Batman can't be dead, right?"

"Right. He's like... better than Superman. He's like ALWAYS right, too. So he can't be dead," Impulse reasoned. "Like... we should ask Reddy. He'll know something, right?"

"I got a better idea," Wonder Girl said, making her way to their main computer.

"Wait!" Impulse protested. "Robin said not to use that line unless it was an emergency."

"I think this is an emergency," Cassie answered.

"Like... what if it gets mad, you know? Cause if you like call up just to say hi, is Batman OK, and he's ok, they're not gonna like that..." Kon stammered out.

"NO!" Cassie cried out and slammed her fist against the table top, breaking it.

"What?" Bart asked, not understanding.

"Oracle's unavailable."

Empress leaned in to look over Cassie's shoulder. "Except for emergencies, right?" That's the way it always worked.

"COMPLETELY unavailable. Off-line. 'Redirect only absolute emergencies to JLA Watchtower'," Cassie read.

"NOW what do we do?" Impulse asked.